Sunday, March 31, 2013

The complete idiot guide for Kibungan Circuit

Kibungan, Benguet
Jumpoff (closed loop): Sitio Tanap, Poblacion, Kibungan
LLA: 1820 MASL (Tagpaya); 1875 MASL (Oten); 2105 (Tagpew)
Days required / Hours to summit: 2-3 days / 6-9 hours (Tagpaya)
Specs (Version 1): Major climb, Difficulty 5/9, Trail class 1-4
Specs (Version 2): Major climb, Difficulty 6/9, Trail class 1-4
Features: Pine ridges, mossy forests, rice terraces, village walks

Source :
Welcome to Kibungan!
Just before the Holy Week, Im looking for a multiday hike to do with less expense because we are only two in the group. And the video from Loyola mountaineer inspire us to drop all of our plans and instead go to kibungan benguet to try the kibungan circuit. Of course doing it with two persons , the itenary will differ from doing it with a big group. So I once again, researched how the locals would do it, how are the locals go to kibungan from baguio and from kibungan back to baguio. I reached out to Engr Kolbel for information and he replied that Sir Charo is the new head of tourism and he gave me sir Charo's number. Since January this year, I constantly get in touched with sir Charo for logistics and information about kibungan and he glady reply to all of my inquiries, without his help the climb might not pushed trough or might not be comfortable than what we have experienced.
Kibungan Municipality Town Hall
We Met at Victory Terminal in Cubao, After more than 5 hours, we arrived in Baguio City, walked all the way to session road to eat breakfast and to buy our packed lunched. Then we took a taxi to Dangwa terminal and wait for the first trip of bus to Kibungan.

The travel time from Baguio to Kibungan will take within 3-4 hours with 2 stop over. It was 30 mins past 9am when we arrived in Kibungan Municipality. There we were met by Ferdie, our guide assigned to us by sir Charo. We have our last minute preparation and bought our supplies. At 10am, under the heat and  humidity, we started to walked to Kibungan mountain ranges.

The trail of Kibungan Mountain ranges
The trail was comparable to Mt Ugu,with weather like Mt Arayat and Mt Balingkilat. With continous ascend and short descend, We arrived in the first campsite at 3pm. The first campsite is also called Buga campsite,there are reliable water source nearby and clean bombsite.

Buga Campsite
From the first campsite to the 2nd campsite which is near Mt tagpew , it will take you between 6-8 hours depends on how long you take a break and how fast you are walking. We arrived at the 2nd campsite at 2pm. According to the guide we are the 2nd fastest group to arrived, the fastest was at 1pm. The tagpew campsite is much colder than the campsite in buga. The water source is just 5 to 10 mins walk and there are also restroom nearby. From the campsite it will also take within 20 mins hike to the summit of Mt Tagpew, the highest peak of the entire circuit.

At Mt Tagpaya. The first peak of the circuit.

The dry part of the trail

At Mt Oten. 

The trail to Ilocos or La Union

Mt Tagpew Summit

The Second Campsite. Near Mt Tagpew.
The descend back to poblacion is the most challenging part of the trekked. We are all accustomed to descend all the way to the jump off with just short ascend and flat terrain. In kibungan, the descend back to jump off is the most crucial and difficult because the entire trail is open, meaning you are under the mercy of the sun's heat that will surely drain your energy and sometimes your sanity. When you reached the road , you think its over and all the way easy ? Think again! After the first store on the side of the road, you will be back again on the trail. When  you passed the last hanging bridge,you will be up again for the surprise, this is the only trail that will let you finished still hiking up. And you are hiking up with the bugs constantly bugging to get into your eyes. We arrived at the municipality at 15 mins past 3pm to end our kibungan circuit adventure.

At Mayo's River
Sweet. Another small group climb.

 The complete idiot guide for climbing Kibungan Circuit

9pm  : Assembly at Victory liner Cubao. Fare : P445
10pm: Etd Cubao to Baguio

Day 1
4am   : Arrival in Baguio, walk to session road to have breakfast and to buy packed lunch/ dinner
5am   : Take taxi to Dangwa terminal. P40
6am   : Take first trip Bus to kibungan. The second and last trip was schedule at 11am. P130
9:30   : Arrival in Kibungan. Meet the guide, buy supplies. There are small stores in kibungan that sells meats, vegetables and other canned foods. No butane .
10am : Start trek
11am : Arrival at the Church, lunch break. Watersource nearby
12pm : Proceed hiking
3pm   : Arrival at the Buga Campsite : Restroom available. Watersource nearby

Day 2
5am  : wake up call
6:30  : start descend
7:00  : water source
10:00: Mt Bulalakaw. Lunch. Water source nearby
11:00: Proceed hiking
2pm  : Arrived at the 2nd campsite . Watersource and restroom available
pitch tent, relax . Enjoy the surrounding.
4:00  : Hike up to the summit of Mt Tagpew
4:15  : Eta Summit. Take pictures. Enjoy life.
4:30  : Start descend
4:45  : Back at the campsite

Day 3
6 am : wake up call
7:30  : Start descend
9:00  : Arrived at the church. Watersource. Take 30mins break
9:30  : Proceed
11:00: Mayo's River Lunch.
12:30: Proceed
3:15pm : Back at the Municipality. Rest.

Lodge is available for 200/head. There's a clean restroom so you can take a bath and change clothes. You can also cook in the lodge for your dinner. The small market and sari-sari store will be closed at 6pm.

First trip bus back to Baguio is at 5am. Fare is P130. Travel time 4 hours.
From Baguio take taxi to Victory liner. No need to reserve ticket.
Baguio to Manila : P445

Registration fee : P30
Guide fee          : P500/day
The guide have their own tent, cookset and food. Of course we can share our foods/trail food to the guide. The guide can only share your load up to 3kg. Because remember the guide have the same load as you are..

Enjoy The Kibungan Mountain Range Experience..

For guide and other information please contact : Charo - 09108771725

Kibungan rice terraces.

Dont forget to reward yourself for the climb. Try Goodtaste Beef Broccoli for less than P100

Friday, March 15, 2013

Climb for the Pringles

Mt. Sicapoo/Traverse via Timarid-Simagaysay (2,354 +)

Solsona, Ilocos Norte

Entry point: Gasgas River, Brgy. Manalpac, Solsona
Exit point: Solsona Dam, Brgy. Manalpac, Solsona
LLA: 2354 MASL
Days required / Hours to summit: 4 days / 16-18 hours
Specs: Major climb, Exploratory, Difficulty 9/9, Trail class 2-5
Features: Pine forest, Traverse trail, River crossing

*source :

Group pics at the penguin beak.Courtesy of Russel De Guzman
 Day 1

Dubbed as the most difficult traverse in the north, with the rating of 9/9, together with few known friends and first time climb buddies, we venture and accept the challenge to traverse sicapoo in 3 days. The climb labeled as "The climb of the abnormals". Onedegreemountaineer suggest in their multiply page that for much comfortable itenaries, the traverse should be completed in 4 days. However, we dont want to comfortable arent we? We all want a new challenges that can bring us to our knees and tell ourselves " Why on earth am i doing this ? ". 

So the adventure begins..

Start of the trek
I already planned and gather logistics for this climb last year. I already coordinated trough email to onedegree, already have the budget and the form to fill out, but with lack of charisma, I failed to gather enough participants for the climb to materialize. So It remains a big dream until the right time comes. 

Melo Sanchez was popular in local mountaineering, as having done a enormous climb records and feats, he is one of the living legend in the field. Some called him "halimaw" (monster) for having successfully completed some of the country's toughest mountain in shorter itenaries, and to be able to have a long stamina and endurance as he can keep walking with no rest until campsite.

Melo Sanchez. Picture of Dan Garcia Samarita
He posted in Facebook that he will be organizing a climb in Mt Sicapoo. I, Myself have this kind of ambition to climb with him, to see how strong he really is. So I send him a message that I want to join the event. However Im not yet comfortable to climb with strangers, and it would be more fun to climb the toughest mountain with someone you already know. So I invite some of my climbing buddies to join me on the event and to my joy, they said say. So the plan begins, to gather information for the event, logistics planning, food preparation and some other things. 

And the climb begins..

We all met at Partas Bus station in Cubao. We arrived in Laog at around 3am, have breakfast, bought packed lunch and dinner, then rode the jeepney to jumpoff. We started to trek at around 6:30am.

First part was a long walk in the flat road,then we entered the first river crossing of Gasgas River. Luckily for us the water was only knee deep, so we dont have any trouble crossing the river. To my count there is at least 4-5 wide river crossing and 3 or more short river crossing or i might be mistaken.I have a climbing strategy to cross the river, as I knew that the rocks below the river might at times became too slippery or the current might be strong deeply, so I pick up a short walking stick, and never left it until Im back at the jumpoff at the end of the climb. Having a third leg in river crossing is also a safety precaution for me, and it help me secure my footing many times, and I have escaped a number of slip and fall.

The First River Crossing. Picture of Dan Garcia Samarita

River Crossing with Walking Stick.Picture of Dan Garcia Samarita
At 11am, we reached the end of the river crossing and took our lunch at the area after the crossing. After 30mins, with the sun shines at its fulles, we began the non stop ascent to the mountain. With numerous ascent and short descent, only to hike up again, on the ridges under the scorching sun, We eventually reached the saulay campsite or crossing at 4pm. We supposed to camp at bubuos campsite, but with some of our companion already showed signs of fatigue, we all agree to call it a day. Of course we all know that tomorrow, another set of challenges, torture and pain awaits all of us. 
Start of the Assault. Picture of Samuel Solidarios

Assault under the heat

Picture of the Gentleman, Russel De Guzman

Campsite.Picture of hiking buddy Dan Garcia Samarita

To be continued...


Monday, March 4, 2013

Dry Trail of the North

 Mt Arayat

After 2 months of hibernating, I found myself on the trail again. This time it was on the uncovered ,exposed and hot trail of Mt Arayat.

I told myself that after this climb, its only a couple of days and I will be hiking up in Mt Sicapoo.
So I should be conditioned enough and rested enough for another multi dayhike. But with 2 months of no practice, no running Im dead tired after this dayhike. Maybe next time I should squeezed out even just one day hike a month and couple of jogging exercise will get my legs the desired condition I want.

I dont want to be the fastest or the strongest on the trail, I leave that title to those who hike years before me. I just want to finish the climb with no injury and not caused any burden to the group Im climbing with. Not that fast, but not very slow either..

This is just a minor climb, and can hike up for 2 hours, unfortunately those 2 months of not hiking can have a big effect on my legs and lungs as I find it taking a toll on me. With less preparation and anticipation, I did not bring enough trail water that can sustain me for the entire climb, much less of the traverse trail that we initially planned. It took us almost 4 hours to hike up, and 2 hours to go down. The trail was just easy to follow, with much less confusing for. However most people said that doing the traverse is not that easy, with less visible trail sign and more confusing fork, to our dismay because we do not have enough water, we aborted the plan of going down in san juan bano area.

This mountain should be climb early in the morning if you plan to do a dayhike , or traverse, and late in the afternoon if you plan to stay for the night. At the campsite, where the basecamp of the military is, there is no water source. Its completely dried up there and in the entire trail

                          My hiking buddy doing his signature planking pose
                              At the south peak,looking at the north peak

How to do it..

From Cubao you can take the bus going to mariveles,orani or any buses that will pass by Sm San Fernando.
Fare : P102

From SM San Fernando take the jeep bound for Magalang, Alight in Jollibee Magalang.
You can buy your packed lunch and get some trail water there.
Fare : P35

Ride tricycle to Jump off.